Don’t you wish you could just shake someone vigorously and have a beautiful rendering pop out? I do. I’ve tried it and the results are not beautiful and you’re no closer to a rendering than you were before. However, there are programs that can do for you what your firm grip can not. Bunkspeed Shot is one and it’s simply speedy to knock out some 3D images worth your day’s salary. We’ll look at how it works, the best features it has and how to get the best results.
Bunkspeed: A brief history
Bunkspeed, founded by Philip Lunn (current CEO), has been around since 2002. You’ve likely heard of the Hypershot rendering program that sold for so many years. In November of 2009, the licensing deal which allowed Bunkspeed to use Luxion rendering technology dissolved. January of 2010, Luxion announced they would continue to develop Hypershot. Luxion ended up rebranding and launching Keyshot. Bunkspeed, in the meantime, teamed up with mental images (subsidiary of NVIDIA Corporation) to use iray rendering technology in their new product named Shot.
How easy is Bunkspeed SHOT?
If you’re familiar with modeling programs like Maya, modo, or Blender you’ll pick up the camera viewing quickly. Rotation, Pan and Zoom are done with the Alt key and the left, middle, right mouse buttons, respectively. The interface uses tabs for both the render screen, when working multiple projects as well as for the dockable tool pallet you’ll see in the image below docked to the right. You have tabs in the tool pallet to view your model tree (list of parts/materials), environment, backplates, cameras and materials. This layout is simple enough to use, but as with many tabbed interface or programs that use a ribbon bar, you have access to one tool at at time which can mean more flipping between tabs.
Bunkspeed Shot in 30 minutes… Go
The claim of mid-level rendering programs is all the pretty without out all the pain. Beautiful images, fast. No messing about with settings. We’re going to test this with Shot. In 30 minutes we’ll take an assembly through the application of materials to see the results and see if it’s an image that could be shown as a good example of Shot’s capabilities. Ready? Go.
The above rendering is 15 minutes into the process. With a fairly large assembly like this Trike (modeled by GrabCAD member Terry Stonehocker), you might think it easier to set properties using the model tree. If you’re familiar with the model and materials, it might be, but doing this in Shot is very tedious. You are able to copy and past materials between parts, but there is currently no option to create material groups or apply materials to multiple parts. If you want to get a rendering fast, jump to the Materials tab and start dragging and dropping materials.
Here we are at 30 minutes into the process. The model looks almost completely rendered, but I didn’t touch a lot of the small parts or the parts on the backside of the model. I can do that easy enough, but this rendering is looking almost convincing enough to show to the boss, customer or prospective client. I had started with raytracing on, but each time you drop a material onto the model, the screen refreshes. When you’re dropping in a lot of materials, turn the raytracing off on the Heads-up Display. You’ll be able to add materials faster and with more accuracy than with it on.
And this is the result after another five minutes of adding a new environment and adjusting the camera. Done while the previous image was rendering, made the process go a bit faster, even though you could definitely feel the lag while the adjusting the camera and adding new environments. Adding new cameras makes it simple to have multiple views of the model and additional lighting settings bring options to the environment that will make a huge difference in final render. Play with them. Learn them. It makes the results worth it. Now this is an image engaging enough to show someone. And with it done on a larger assembly all within the time of 30 minutes proves its worth in creating a more realistic image.
CPU, GPU or Hybrid Rendering
For this review, I’m using a HP Elitebook 8740w with a Core i7 Q740 1.73GHz Processor and a NVIDIA 5000m GPU (2GB, 320 CUDA Cores). I’ve not heard a laptop fan run so hard for so long as it did when I was rendering images. While running Shot (and Photoshop and Chrome) things were a’heatin’ up. Each image below was rendered at 1920 x 1080 and 300dpi. Render Mode was set for Quality at 2000 passes. Here are the results of rendering using CPU, GPU and both together.
Can you spot the differences? You know, besides the times? Not much is there. Really, there isn’t much reason for having a choice between the three, unless you’re specifically offloading a rendering process to one while using another. With all Hybrid rendering times I clocked coming out ahead, there’s obviously some benefit to both being used. One area that did stand out on the CPU version is the highlights on the edge of the seats. They came out more uniform on the CPU rendering, while being skewed slightly on the GPU and Hybrid rendering.
Lovely tabbed interface
Part/Material grouping options
Highlight on select
Running Pass count
.OBJ Export (Can import into Photoshop)
System Capabilities Quick View
What it needs
More file format options
Retain Material Type when switching
More Material Adjustments
Better material import for SolidWorks models
Split tool pallet
Split screen mode
The results that come out of Shot are indeed impressive. That it takes very little time to produce them is an added bonus. With very little adjustments you can get a great looking, photo-realistic rendering. Perhaps that’s enough for most. When you’re going for basic and quick, you don’t want to be messing around with material and light settings. Bunkspeed Shot provides that. It also provides the extra settings you want for lighting and cameras. I won’t say you get better GPU rendering with Shot because the rendering engine used is developed by a subsidiary of NVIDIA, but yeah, there’s that.
Where improvements could be made are in the UI as much as the individual tools. The tabs are great on the tool pallet, being able to split them up (akin to Photoshop) would allow you to work in your Model tree and Materials at the same time. Having a split-screen mode would add a little improvement to the workflow. Other options like material groups are not available, as are additional setting for materials which could allow more visual control.
Overall, it’s a wonderful tool that I would recommend. One warning I would give however is that working with real-time rendering on can slow down the workflow, particularly if you have a computer with fewer processors and a low to mid-range video card. If you’re main task is doing renderings, a computer with multiple processors and a high-end GPU should be part of the set-up anyway, so this wouldn’t be a concern. If you’re peeling off a few renderings to supplement your design or engineering, you’ll find a mid to high-end GPU acceptable, just understand that rendering times for GPU and Hybrid could take a little longer.
Disclosure: Bunkspeed provided the evaluation of Bunkspeed shot for this review. It expired, then they reactivated it again. It expired one more time, and they activated it again. Thanks to Gladys for resending all those license files.